It Was a God ThingWritten by Janette Blackwell
People who know I’m religious might be surprised to learn that I sometimes doubt there is a God.
Then I think of events leading up to my mother’s death, I see great kindness of God toward us both, and I feel all better.
It began with something going wrong. God things often do, I’ve noticed. I had been caring for my mother, Dorothy Glidewell, for thirteen years, since she had a major stroke in 1988. The stroke took her ability to move her right side and to speak, except for “yes” and “no.”
During last five years of her life she never left her bed. And she never had a bedsore.
I was proud of that.
And then she got one, in her heel, and it wouldn’t heal. I propped it up, tried all sorts of ointments, and it just got worse. I had to ask for help from Visiting Nurse Association, whose nurses began coming by twice a week. I could never have made it heal, they said. Healing would take six weeks of special medication.
Oddly enough, this was first God thing. Because I was going to need calm reassurance of those visiting nurses in days to come.
Late in that April of 2003, my brother David drove from Montana to Virginia for what became his last visit. As soon as Mother heard he was on his way, she began to glow with happiness, and she kept that glow throughout his visit.
Only hours after he left, she apparently had a small stroke, which took her ability to feed herself with a spoon. She began sleeping ninety percent of time, as she had done after her stroke in 1988, one reason I decided she’d had another.
This began a series of events, which I believe were small strokes, each of which took something. Soon she forgot how to chew and could only have soft food. And, oddly enough, that was when I began to see most clearly hand of God orchestrating her departure.
By this time her world had narrowed. She no longer cared about TV, no longer tried to be a good citizen who kept up with world news. Even Andy Griffith lost his charm.
The signs were unmistakable: she was going. But I wasn’t ready. Our lives had been so intricately intertwined that it HURT to pull us apart. I walked hallway for days coming to terms with our coming separation. I was given that necessary time, and finally I came to terms with it.
No sooner had I done so than visiting nurse stepped in. I had told her I thought Mother was having small strokes. The nurse’s interpretation was that Mother needed to go into hospital for diagnostic tests. And doctor’s interpretation, when nurse called him, was that Mother needed to go into hospice program.
By then I was able to tell doctor that I felt ready for this, and he agreed to set it up. But afterwards I wondered: I was ready, but was Mother?
“Does it seem to you that pretty soon you’re going to go to heaven to be with Jesus?” I asked her.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!”
“Is it okay that I put you into hospice program?”
Oddly enough, that began a happy time for her. People brought her flowers. Her sister made reservations to fly out from Montana to see her. And Mother understood why these things were taking place. Even though strokes took much from her, she always understood important things. And nothing ever touched her loving heart.
Sunday afternoon brought her pastors, Father Jim and Brenda Brinson. With them was Joe Maio, who had so faithfully brought communion wafers and love to Mother’s bedside each week. This time he brought a guitar, and he came to say goodbye.
Father Jim conducted a full communion service, complete with music, just for Mother. But when time came for communion wine, I said, “She doesn’t know how to drink liquids anymore.”
A Heart Full of Song and ServiceWritten by Lisa M. Hendey
A Heart Full of Song and Service Christian Music Spotlight Interview with Chuck Stevens By Lisa M. Hendey
When we open our hearts and Your Word sets them free We become as You call us to be When we share Your compassion, Your mercy and love We are standing in Your presence O Lord In Your Presence, Chuck Stevens
Imagine meeting a talented recording artist who’s looking to give away most of profits from his CD sales, whose greatest hope is that he can use his small talents to bring praise and worship to God, not himself. You’ve just met Chuck Stevens, police officer, husband, father of five and Christian songwriter.
Chuck Stevens is one of those people I find most inspiring – ones who don’t just have good intentions, but who look around themselves and take proactive steps to make this world a better place. Having recorded his first CD, In Your Presence, Stevens now works with parishes, church projects and charities to raise needed funds through sales of his music. Active in his home parish, Stevens is currently in second of his four years of preparation to become a deacon in his church.
In Your Presence is a compilation of ten songs, penned and sung by Stevens. The lyrics are simple and inspiring and music is an acoustic folk style that makes for great listening. My personal favorite is title track, In Your Presence, which encapsulates Stevens’ commitment to serving Christ through our compassionate service to those around us.
I’m pleased to share following conversation with Chuck Stevens, and encourage you to visit his web site and support his music ministry.
Q: Please tell our readers about yourself, your family, and your own faith journey.
A: I'm a very fortunate individual. God has blessed me with Kathi, my wonderful wife of 19 years and we have been blessed with (and by) five great kids, (three boys Sean, David , Chris; and two girls Jessica and Kelly) ranging in age from 8 to 16 years . I have finished second of four years of study for permanent diaconate, and am actively involved in music ministry, catechetics, and other activities within our home parish, in Petrolia, Ontario (Canada).
The Church has always been an important part of our family life; in fact, Church has always been our main social outlet/connection since we move around quite regularly. I'm a 'cradle Catholic' having been raised in a traditional Catholic home, born while Second Vatican Council was sitting, so I grew up with all changes while still being influenced by traditions of Church which my parents cherished. My relationship with Jesus has always been important to me, even as a teen when I (as most teenagers do) started questioning everything. God continued to grant me grace to feel His presence regularly.
Perhaps in past I didn't recognize this, but with continuing of my studies, I have found that a more intense prayer life and setting more time aside for Scripture and quiet 'listening' have drawn me into a deeper relationship with God. This has translated itself into music. It's quite funny actually - as a teen I played in a church folk group, and then matured (or so I thought) into playing in pubs. I was playing in clubs and bars about 25 years ago, met my wife Kathi, who became my manager, then my best friend, then my wife. Shortly after that, I broke my left hand and figured, “there goes music biz”. I resigned from musician's union and didn't pursue any other music jobs. About a year later, a small rural parish we belonged to wanted someone to accompany a group of children so they could sing at Christmas Eve Children's Mass. Kathi persuaded me that I wanted to do this (even though I hadn't played at all since breaking my hand)...it wasn't until she pointed it out to me - I haven't played anywhere except churches and church functions in 25 years since then. Now I'm not suggesting for a minute “God broke my hand”; but it just shows me how Holy Spirit takes our circumstances to lead us, if we follow, where God wants us to use our talents.
Q: Please share story of what inspired you to create your CD, In Your Presence.
A: I had worked on a number of songs over past couple of years that never seemed to get finished, or that I could fill in. I had bits of melodies, bits of verse, but nothing really tangible. During our diaconal studies' year end retreat in Oxley, Ontario, we spent Friday evening in a meditative exercise, then retired to our rooms for quiet time. During course of that evening, I finished three songs that I had been working on over years, and came up with three more. In fact, we used two of those at Sunday liturgy that weekend. One was "In Your Presence'. As I felt Holy Spirit's presence very strongly that weekend, particularly as music just seemed to 'flow' Friday evening, I felt there was more than just a grace from God of finishing a few songs. I came away with conviction that Lord wanted me to use this gift, freely given to me, to help others come to praise, worship and serve God, and to help out churches and ministries wherever and however I could. This led to another thought 'out of blue' that if I could record music, then it could be used by others for worship, prayer or just listening. In addition, I felt urged to use music to raise funds for churches and ministries. I have a day job which helps me to provide for my family (I'm a police officer), music is a gift from God, which I feel, allows me to participate in God's providence to others.